Coming up with a new idea and putting it into motion can be difficult. The weight and pressure to innovate can lead to ‘idea paralysis’, where ideas are mulled over, though rarely implemented. The effects of this can lead to anxiety, loss of confidence, and key milestones and deadlines missed. Overcoming idea paralysis can be tough, and for those just starting out, the pressure and enormity of the challenge can sometimes be derailing.
One person who knows about the importance of implementing ideas is marketing strategist and former Lego marketing tsar Christian Majgaard. While at Lego, Christian helped to bring to life many of the ideas that laid the groundwork for the Danish company’s turnaround in the 1990s, including the company’s expansion into theme parks, e-commerce, and movie and franchise licencing.
We caught up with Christian when he was in Sydney earlier this month to promote the Wired for Wonder festival and inaugural Youth Summit coming up in September.
“Don’t be afraid to try out everything, as long as you do it in small scale first,” Christian stressed, saying that diversity of experience can help provide fresh perspective and insights that could fuel new ideas and approaches. Different workplaces, such as a jam factory, picking fruit and running a newspaper delivery round in his early years, gave him greater insights that he could later apply to problem solving - “I learned something about myself and learned about discipline, I learned about business systems.”
While a formal education is important, Christian also says that life experience is key.
“No matter how much you may respect your studies and career, you need to balance your academic and professional life with activities that see you engage with people from all walks of life,” Christian says. Despite his professional commitments and busy work schedule, Christian remains active within his local community in Denmark to ensure his thinking and ideas are relevant and grounded.
“It’s very important that you do other things, you find other walks of life that you can approach. Everyone needs to make sure that they have a life parallel to their profession or studies, where they can test their real life skills.”
One of the trappings of new technology is that while it can be easy to use at an application level, it can be difficult to create or ideate. Christian says, “Computers, mobile phones and apps can help students to do amazing things and bring to life amazing ideas but they are quite complex systems. Starting something new or developing an idea can be difficult and it can be hard to know where to start.”
Develop ideas in a simple format and then build in the detail, Christian suggests. Complexity can be a deterrent to execution or follow through, he says. Referencing the simplicity of a product like Lego, Majgaard notes that it allows you to start creating almost instantly.
“You can decide on the challenge because you can set it yourself. If you want to challenge yourself and build something complex you can, though in a matter of seconds you can also build something very simple like a three-colour tower.”
“If you want to do something very great, don’t do it alone,” he adds.
Christian stresses that while it is important to keep focused on your end-goal and objective, seeking other opinions and support can help to strengthen an idea or approach. Others may provide alternate challenges and solutions that you may not have thought of, or guidance on the strength of the idea and next steps.
“It is very important to use dialogue, to not accept that you’re alone in this world, because you have parents, neighbours, teachers, siblings and friends who can help. Regardless of age, it is a good idea that whenever there is a challenge, talk to someone else about it, because that creates inspiration, it creates spirit, it creates trust that you can do something,” Majgaard said.
About Wired for Wonder
Supported by Commonwealth Bank, Wired for Wonder kicks off in Melbourne on 11 September and in Sydney on 13 September and aims to inspire and challenge the way participants think.
For the first time the festival will include a Youth Summit on 14 September, which will see up to 500 high school students from 28 different schools attending a specially designed program. The program is aimed to inspire students, encourage them to think differently, and showcase the career options available through science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.
Student participation has been funded through Wired for Wonder ticket sales. For more information visit www.wiredforwonder.com